With economies still reeling from Covid-19, addressable markets have shrunk and businesses are under more pressure to deliver results in H2.
Sales teams have to get more, from less.
Something’s got to give.
Instead of pushing harder to close more deals, with more companies, it’s time to refocus.
In this episode of the B2B Rebellion, Aurelien Mottier discusses how to target the right accounts and why it’s imperative to understand the changing problems and possible solutions of your prospects.
Andy Culligan: Hey guys. Welcome back to another episode of B2B Rebellion. Really, really happy to have somebody that I've worked with for a little bit of time now. And we've also done a webinar together. And I was also a customer of his, back in a previous life.
I've got Aurelien Mottier from Operatix here, and Operatix are a company... Back then, when I was using them as a customer of theirs, we needed to get more qualified meetings booked for our sales team. And I think that's probably what a lot of companies would use them for. I might be doing you an injustice here. But what really worked from our side was getting more qualified meetings booked into salespeople's calendars.
And it was creating a demand in the market whereby if we were trying to break into a new market, let's say for example, the US, you guys had people on the ground there, you had the experience within the market, and I didn't need to start building a local sales team, or trying to scale a local sales team without really getting a footprint in the market.
So again, I may have done you some injustice there, but if from a personal perspective, having used you guys, that's where we found a lot of value. And I know that you work with companies like Microsoft, Semantic, Adobe and so on. So big software, big software companies. Do you wanna give yourself a bit of an intro there, Aurelien, on what you guys do?
Aurelien Mottier: Sure. Yeah, sure. Thanks Andy. Thanks for having me today. So a little bit more than the appointment setting, but I appreciate you use us in that capacity. We basically have three levels of service.
We've got an enterprise play, which is technically for organisation that would have an average deal value north of $100K, long and complex sales cycles, multi-bio personnel journey. And what we would do there, we would do an account-based selling, account-based marketing type of activity or type of campaigns. The results, the tip of the iceberg, what people will see... What some people only want to see is the appointments, right? Because that's what's cool, that's what you can measure. But there is the part of the iceberg that people don't see. Which is all the work that goes in, all the people that says no. Why do they say no? All the data that is being built, all the information, all the intelligence that has been gathered. So it's a little bit more than the appointment setting, but you're right. Sometimes people just focus on that key metric, key KPI.
The second part of our offering is what we call our volume services. So we've got clients who have a lower average deal value, a more transactional type of business or type of solutions. Or they would be playing in what we would call a commodity play, okay? And what they need, they need velocity in the sales cycle. So you won't work with an account executive, but you will work with a channel partner on an inside sales team. The average deal value may drop below $50K, $30K. And what we need to do, we need to do more step in the qualification, we need to have more volume of opportunities coming through. So we'll use technology stacks of sales and marketing automation, go through a larger volume of data, spit out some half-baked opportunities, if you will, that our SDR team or LDR team, as we like to call them, they've got lots of different names... But basically business consultant, business sales consultant, will then pick up, qualify, and then pass on to the right individual in our client's organisation.
And then the last part of our offering, and there is no order of priority, really, is around the channel, where we help our clients to accelerate recruitment, accelerate the enablement, but also accelerate the activation, which basically means the go-to-market of their partners. And that could be the traditional channel. So a distributor or resellers, value-added resellers, value-added history and all that sort of great stuff, MSPs and all that. But more and more we're getting into the ISV play. So we're seeing a lot of organisations who have a bunch of independent software vendors as partners, and basically if those guys are successful, I.e. If they sale more, they would then consume more of their product, which could be cloud, which could be some licenses, or whatever. So we also get involved in that ISV play, and eventually that's what we do. I could go on forever, but I'm gonna stop here.
Andy: Okay, so let's talk about sales now, Aurelien.
Andy: Things are a little bit up in the air at the moment. You guys are helping accelerate sales pipelines, or velocity in the funnel, let's call it. Also touching into those accounts, and trying to get to a level... To get things up to the next level, whether it's a meeting booked or it's an opportunity, whatever it might be. What are the things that you're seeing at the moment? And what are some of the advice that you give to salespeople right now?
AM: Yeah, so there's a few things that we are seeing. I think there is a sure realisation it's getting better. So I'm not sure when you're gonna publish the recording, Andy, but we are, what? We are 29th of June right now. So I feel it's better, I feel we are... I live in front of a park and I see lots of people going around and stuff like that, not really social distancing anymore. But I think the market is really taking a turn, and has been really evolving since mid-March. And mid-March to mid-April was very terrible. Nobody knew... We will never get away, we will never come out of lockdown, and whatever it was. And now things are getting a little bit better. Even some people are planning to go to Spain and France and all of that, on holiday. So things seem to be progressing.
But I think what we are seeing... We are seeing that there is an effect on the market shrinking slightly. So no matter what sort of organisation you are, and who you are targeting, hospitalities, travel, airlines, and all the supply chain of those organisations, of all those industries, should I say, are being affected by covid-19. So if you look at the FTSE, if you look at the CAC, if you look at the DAX, I'm just focusing on Europe only for a minute, and I'm taking those three big countries, so UK, France, and Germany. You probably would have around 30% to 35% of the accounts in those, FTSE, CAC, and DAX, that will be impacted in term of their industry. In Germany you will have BMW, people don't buy car. They actually stopped building cars. So they closed down their manufacture. When they closed down their manufacture, they affect all their supply chain.
In France you'll have Accor Group, big chain of hotel; Sodexo, they do lots of cleaning, canteens and all that. And Peugeot, Citroen, the same; in the UK, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and lots of other that would be large organisations will be impacted. So you can't really target those guys. So what it means, it means that your target market is shrinking. And I'm talking to the enterprise, but it's probably true for smaller, the mid-market, shall I say? But with mid-markets, I would take example of company names that may not be relevant to lots of people, so I'm gonna stick with enterprise and use big brands so it will speak to your audience here, Andy.
But what we are seeing, we're seeing probably around 30% to 35% of the addressable market shrinking, okay? But we will see sales guys being under more pressure to get results, alright? So basically we're creating a knock-on effect of bad attitude, in a way. I call it bad attitude, but it's not saying that the sales guys are bad, but they are under pressure to get more from less, okay? And they are under pressure yesterday, okay? And what it leads to, it leads to people saying to us, "We want to find projects now. People who can buy our stuff next quarter," when usually their sales cycle is nine months. And when right now, quite frankly, projects are all over the place. Companies have been redoing their forecasts, they've been redoing prioritisation. We have seen CIOs, CTOs, CMOs, but particularly the IT department, really being seen as the warrior, the champion.
Covid-19 put IT department on the road map of the board more than it was before. Why? Because they managed to get all those people to work from home. They managed to keep us going, they managed to keep us secure. Let's give them more money. Now we understand all the things that they were telling us, "Oh, those guys are quite important to our business." So with that there is a big re-shift of where the money should come from. And what we believe from the conversation we've got, I don't have exact stats to share with you because its literally evolving over time, but really our feeling at the moment is that what we've seen over the course of June is prospects really being open in term of projects. I think what you need to do is to be able that you can bring a certain level of return on investment, a certain level of operational effectiveness, and all-in-all economies, right? It's all doing it with less people or doing it at a lower cost, okay?
Because these are the things that are really important for companies. Most of them are trying to catch up, and to catch up you've got to either increase revenue or reduce cost. And right now, increasing revenue is a little bit on the balance, we don't know what will happen. Are we going on holidays summer? Are we not going on holiday? Are they gonna reopen? Are they not reopening? So there is lots of unknowns and question marks. So I don't think companies are really putting, from a strategy perspective, a lot of their eggs in the basket of revenue, so it's in the basket of cost, okay? So that's what should come from the board. So the question is saying to our clients, "You got to go and address that." Right? In February, we would have said yes to someone who said, "Okay, can you set me up an appointment so I can go and do a demonstration? My sales guys will come, he will have a system engineer with him. They will plug their laptop and then they will do the corporate presentation. Sales guy will sit down, IC will do his bits, they will do all their bits. At the end of the meeting, do you have a project? Yes or no?"
That's not the way it works anymore. We are in what we believe is the challenge-ourselves era, volume 2, where you need to go and create your deals, okay? And what we believe sales people should do, what we believe marketing organisations should support them in doing, and what we believe investor and boards should support the whole lot in doing is, "Okay, we've got less accounts to target." Alright? So we need to go and speak to those organizations. We need to go and speak their language. We need to go and understand and what they're trying to achieve. And we need to tell them, "Based on your plan of cutting cost or whatever, etcetera, etcetera, we can be 5%, we can be 10%, we can be 1%, we can be 0.5%, whatever it is." But go and try to understand what's coming down from the board, and then speak about your product. Then do your demo. And I think that's where sometimes our clients got it wrong. We still have people coming to us, speaking to us and say, "Oh my god, covid-19 had a big impact. Now we need to have a big H2. So we need to find projects." And we're just simply turning them down.
AM: There is no real project. If you go to a prospect right now and try to qualify them, you won't be welcome. If I call you right now and say, "I want your marketing budget, Andy." You'll probably be like, "Well, you know what? I'm doing lots of things at the moment, such as recording some short videos with a French guy, and bits and pieces like that to get my brand out, and you're not part of my plan. But maybe tell me if you could help me to... " And you will need to have a conversation.
And I think prospects are really open to conversation. They have time in the end to have conversation. The plan is to have the right conversation and the right expectation, okay? And now is the time to go and create the demand rather than trying to find the needle in the haystack that will be that opportunity to close your deal for $150,000 in one month's sales cycle, which won't happen. So it's about being realistic. It's about resetting. It's about going and selling rather than going and collecting orders, particularly for the enterprise space. So that's my two cents on it.
Andy: I don't even think it's just the enterprise business. I'm seeing... I've seen that quite a bit in the mid-market as well, is that people do outreach to me and they just expect me to sign a contract without them even selling to me, really.
AM: I know.
Andy: There's a lot of really shitty sales people out there.
AM: People book you for a demo. People will call you... I had guys calling me asking, "Can we get a demo?" "I don't... My business plan is evolving, I don't even know what you're doing, I don't even know what benefits you can have for my top line, bottom line, you don't explain anything, you don't even understand my business. I've got competitors calling me." They must be desperate. They want to do pipeline generation for me. That's nice of them.
Nice of them. I'm like, "Guys, come on, it's time to target, it's time to be smart, and the smarter will survive in the... " The other will be like dinosaurs, they will be extinguished.
Andy: I had to laugh over something you just said there about competitors doing outreach to you. I got targeted by one of our core competitors from the UK, you'll know who I'm talking about, but I'm not going to name any names.
But one of their sales reps reached out to me late last week saying, would I be available for a catch-up call, and also he'd like to offer me a free trial of their products.
AM: That's kind.
Andy: So, in order to start recognising the leads that are visiting our website. So like, you know, "Thanks."
AM: Very kind of him.
Andy: I got back to him. He said he's gonna organise a demo call for me at some stage this week. So I'm interested in seeing the demo, for sure.
AM: I've got people chasing me on free stuff. I'm like, "Stop it, it's free, if I wanted, I would respond to you, stop it." It just doesn't make sense to me because you suggest something that is free, but it will take me operational time, that I can't afford right now. I want my operational team to be with my clients, not trying to set up new things or whatever.
And particularly when there is no business case. It's a training tool. "Okay, great. Well, tell me about what you've done with other companies like me, tell me about what you think you should do? Or do you know how many people are recruiting? Do you know that we may be having some large program coming in or we're gonna expand a few? So we will need to train more people. Do you ask me any question to try to understand where I am at, and then try to tell me based on where you are, 'This is what I think we could bring you?' No. So if you're not gonna do that, you're not gonna interest me."
And that's another thing as well I think is missing, but you will be surprised even in enterprise sense. And I think it's a little bit of stress and it's sometimes it's coming from the top, sometimes it's coming from the side, I don't know. But, yeah, H1 has been challenging for some people. And the worst thing that you can do is to just try to scalp people for opportunities in H2.
What you've got to do is to go and create the demand. You've got to start early, be in the sales cycle, influence people. I think there is a better access to OPEX and CAPEX anywhere at the moment. So go and sell, don't try to just fulfil pre-existing needs. And also, we are seeing the sales cycles of our clients, that's a good point actually, coming shorted on. So we had a few... Probably 80% of our clients telling us, "Well, look, once we found someone interested now in our stuff, literally you could close in four months. And it used to take nine months."
Andy: There you go.
AM: So decision cycles are much quicker, which means that you've got less time to play, you've got less time to get involved. So go and create those deals, go and create the opportunity, go and influence that RFP. Go and influence the project, be early. Don't go when the project is already defined and three of your competitors have already put a quote out there.
Andy: Thank you so much, mate. It's been really really interesting to talk, and it's always been a pleasure. And look, I wish you guys all the best at Operatix.
AM: Thank you.
Andy: And I hope you guys keep pushing forward and keep shortening those sales cycles, mate.
AM: I will do that. We're actually seeing some good results. But we think the tide is turning right now. And June has been a good month for us, so now we need to build. And I think people are going back to investing and getting out there. So that's encouraging. I think the economy is gonna catch up.
Andy: Yeah, it's picking back up again, for sure, we see it as well. But yeah, thank you so much, Aurelien. It's been a pleasure.
AM: Thank you, Andy. Take care.
Andy: Thank you.
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